March 9th, 2014
If you shoot Service Rifle, or use a .223 Rem at medium to long range, you should read J. Guthrie’s ShootingTimes.com review of Black Hills MK 262 Mod 1 ammunition. Originally developed for military applications, this very accurate ammo is now available for civilians to purchase. It uses a special Sierra 77gr MatchKing bullet with cannelure. Black Hills did extensive testing to develop this ammunition, shooting over 250,000 test rounds with various propellants and projectiles. Eventually, the Sierra 77gr MK bullet was chosen, with a powder that delivers 2750 fps MV (from a 20″ barrel).
READ Full Review of Black Hills MK 262 Mod 1 Ammunition
Sierra’s 77-grain bullet delivered great accuracy at long range. Guthrie explains: “Several bullets were used during the development process, including the 73-grain Berger, 77-grain Sierra MatchKing, and 77-grain Nosler HPBT. Black Hills finally settled on the MatchKing when Sierra agreed to put a cannelure on the bullet. In test fixtures Sierra’s bullet proved slightly more accurate. Accuracy was exceptional, certainly an improvement over M855 [military 5.56x45mm ammunition].”
Guthrie’s article explains that this ammo design started off as target ammunition developed for the USAMU. That was followed by a 1999 request from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division for a round that would work with a suppressed, short-barrel M16 variant. Over the years, as Black Hills produced more ammo for the U.S. military, this ammunition continued to be improved. Guthrie notes: “The name changed with each modification. MK 262 Mod 0 was adopted in 2002, Mod 1 came along in 2003 with the cannelure, and an improvement to temperature sensitivity came along in 2005.”
According to Black Hills President James Hoffman, the MK 262 ammo “developed a cult following… so [in 2011] we started offering it to the public. The only difference is the packaging — it is the exact same ammunition as is delivered to the U.S. Military — loaded to the exact same specs”. The commercial version is sold in black/red 50-count boxes labeled “5.56mm 77 GR OTM”. The exact same ammo is issued to American war-fighters in 20-round, brown cardboard boxes labeled “5.56mm SPECIAL BALL, LR MK 262 MOD 1.”
Field Test of Black Hills MK 262 Mod 1 Ammunition
About J. Guthrie: Last April, at the much-too-young age of 37 years, outdoor writer J. Guthrie passed away in his sleep, leaving a wife and two young children. Field & Stream noted: “Guthrie was already a major player and a pro’s pro, but he wanted to be more. He wanted to be a Gun Writer in the old style. It’s a terrible loss for all of us that his run was cut so short.”
Story idea from Grant Guess. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 8th, 2014
In our article on Bullet Coating we covered the basic principles of applying dry lubricants to “naked” bullets. This article covered the three main coating options: Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly), Tungsten Disulfide (WS2 or “Danzac”), and Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN or “White Graphite”). All three compounds can be impact-plated on to bullets with relative ease, using inexpensive equipment. Moly is still the most popular choice, but many more shooters are considering HBN because it is ultra-slippery, it is less messy, and it offers some advantages over Moly or WS2.
After we published our Bullet Coating feature, many readers asked for more info on HBN. Some current moly users had questions about switching over to Boron Nitride. Forum member Larry Medler has published an excellent web article discussing the process of applying 70nm HBN using plastic jars and a Thumler’s rotary tumbler. If you are working with HBN currently, or plan to experiment with Boron Nitride, you should read Medler’s HBN-Coating Article.
After coating some bullets for his 6XC, Medler seems “sold” on the merits of HBN. Larry writes: “The coating process is much better than Moly — no black mess. My coating process times are the same as for Moly. Three hours of tumbling in the corn cob and three hours of tumbling in the steel balls with 3.0 grains of hBN Powder. The bullets look something like sugar-coated donuts when I dump the jar of steel balls with the freshly coated bullets into my sieve to separate. The coated bullets wipe clean to the touch with a little towel rub down and remain very slippery. So far I am very pleased with my coated bullets’ smoothness and appearance.”
Field Tests Are Very Promising
Interestingly, Larry’s HBN-coated bullets are shooting flatter, with tighter vertical, than his moly-coated bullets. Since he has also pointed the tips of this batch of bullets, it’s not clear whether the reduced drop is due to the pointing or the HBN coating, but the results are certainly encouraging: “I have shot the HBN-coated bullets a couple of times now at 600 yards and everything seems to be okay or a lot like Moly. Funny thing is the HBN-coated bullets are shooting higher by 7/8 MOA. I have to check the speed and see if it has changed enough for that POI change. Good news is I had a string of 15 shots with less than 1.5 inches of vertical which is the best I have ever seen with my rifles. Is that due to the hBN or bullet pointing?”
Photos courtesy Larry Medler, All Rights Reserved
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March 2nd, 2014
What is “Overbore”? That’s a question rifle shooters can debate to no end. This article from our archives proposes one way to identify “overbore cartridges”. We think the approach outlined here is quite useful, but we know that there are other ways to define cartridges with “overbore” properties. Whenever we run this article, it stimulates a healthy debate among our readers — and that is probably a good thing.
Forum Member John L. has been intrigued by the question of “overbore” cartridges. People generally agree that overbore designs can be “barrel burners”, but is there a way to predict barrel life based on how radically a case is “overbore”? John notes that there is no generally accepted definition of “overbore”. Based on analyses of a wide variety of cartridges, John hoped to create a comparative index to determine whether a cartridge is more or less “overbore”. This, in turn, might help us predict barrel life and maybe even predict the cartridge’s accuracy potential.
John tells us: “I have read countless discussions about overbore cartridges for years. There seemed to be some widely accepted, general rules of thumb as to what makes a case ‘overbore’. In the simplest terms, a very big case pushing a relatively small diameter bullet is acknowledged as the classic overbore design. But it’s not just large powder capacity that creates an overbore situation — it is the relationship between powder capacity and barrel bore diameter. Looking at those two factors, we can express the ‘Overbore Index’ as a mathematical formula — the case capacity in grains of water divided by the area (in square inches) of the bore cross-section. This gives us an Index which lets us compare various cartridge designs.”
OVERBORE INDEX Chart
So what do these numbers mean? John says: “My own conclusion from much reading and analysis is that cartridges with case volume to bore area ratio less than 900 are most likely easy on barrels and those greater than 1000 are hard on barrels.” John acknowledges, however, that these numbers are just for comparison purposes. One can’t simply use the Index number, by itself, to predict barrel life. For example, one cannot conclude that a 600 Index number cartridge will necessarily give twice the barrel life of a 1200 Index cartridge. However, John says, a lower index number “seems to be a good predictor of barrel life”.
John’s system, while not perfect, does give us a benchmark to compare various cartridge designs. If, for example, you’re trying to decide between a 6.5-284 and a 260 Remington, it makes sense to compare the “Overbore Index” number for both cartridges. Then, of course, you have to consider other factors such as powder type, pressure, velocity, bullet weight, and barrel hardness.
Overbore Cases and Accuracy
Barrel life may not be the only thing predicted by the ratio of powder capacity to bore cross-section area. John thinks that if we look at our most accurate cartridges, such as the 6 PPC, and 30 BR, there’s some indication that lower Index numbers are associated with greater inherent accuracy. This is only a theory. John notes: “While I do not have the facilities to validate the hypothesis that the case capacity to bore area ratio is a good predictor of accuracy — along with other well-known factors — it seems to be one important factor.”
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March 1st, 2014
It’s not easy to place a first shot on target at 1500 yards. You must measure the wind speed with precision, know your exact muzzle velocity, and have a sophisticated ballistics solver. In this short video from Ryansrangereport.com, the shooter manages a first-round hit on a steel silhouette at 1500 yards. He used a Kestrel 4500 NV Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics software to figure out the trajectory for his 6.5 Creemoor rounds.
The Kestrel recorded a wind velocity, and the internal software calculated a solution of 17 Mils elevation (that’s 928 inches of drop) with 2.5 Mils windage. “Bang” — the shooter sends it, and 2.6 seconds later “Clang” he had a hit (flight time was 2.6 seconds). Bryan Litz observes: “This is the science of accuracy (in the form of an Applied Ballistics Kestrel) being put to good use at 1500 yards”.
Later in the video (1:05-1:15) the shooter places three rounds on steel at 1000 yards in just 10 seconds. The three shots all fall within 10″ or so — pretty impressive for rapid fire. The shooter reports: “[In my 6.5 Creedmoor] I’m using a 136gr Lapua Scenar L. This bullet has impressed me. It screams out of my barrel at 2940 fps and holds on all the way out to 1,500 yards.”
The rifle was built by Aaron Roberts of Roberts Precision Rifles (RPRifles.com). Chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, it features a Leupold Mark VI 3-18x44mm scope.
Roberts Precision Rifles
19515 Wied Rd. Suite D
Spring, Texas 77388
Email: rprifles @ gmail.com
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March 1st, 2014
Looking for quality, name-brand projectiles at a bargain price? Then check out the Hornady Bulk Bullets Specials at Grafs.com. Currently, Grafs.com has a variety of popular Hornady rifle and pistol bullets on sale. Get one hundred 75gr .224-caliber BTHP bullets for just $16.99 (Item #HRN2279B). If you favor .30-caliber cartridges, you can get one hundred 110gr FMJ bullets for $18.99 (Item #HRN3017B).
Your Editor just ordered some .45-caliber 185gr SWCs for his S&W 1911. These .451-diameter Hornady-made FMJ bullets are $19.89 per 100 bullets (Item #HRN45137B). Round-nose 230gr .45-caliber FMJ bullets are also offered for $22.39. If you shoot a 9mm pistol, you can order 147gr FMJ bulk bullets for just $15.99 per 100 (Item #HRN35597B). These prices are comparable with the cost of cast lead bullets from other vendors. When you consider that many indoor ranges no longer allow non-jacketed lead bullets, you may want to get some Hornady bulk bullets from Grafs.com while supplies last. NOTE: the stated prices include shipping after one flat handling fee of $7.95 per order.
Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 1st, 2014
Many of our Forum members shoot an “improved” 6mmBR cartridge. This might be a 30°-shoulder 6mm BRX, or a 40°-shoulder 6mm Dasher, or the 6mm BRDX, which is very similar to the Dasher, but with a slightly longer neck. This Editor shoots a 6mm BRDX and has found it very accurate, and maybe a bit easier to fire-form than a standard Dasher. Speaking of fire-forming, in our Shooters’ Forum, we often see questions about fire-forming BRX/Dasher brass. For those who need a large number of BRX or Dasher cases, one option to consider is using pistol powder in a dedicated fire-forming barrel. Here’s an explanation of how this process can work.
Forum member Skeeter has a 6mm Dasher falling block varmint rifle. The Dasher case is based on the 6mm BR Norma cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and out to 40°. This gives the Dasher roughly 3.5 grains added capacity compared to the standard 6BR.
A few seasons back, Skeeter needed to form 300 cases for varmint holiday. Skeeter decided to fire-form his brass without bullets. This method avoids barrel wear and saves on components. There are various ways to do this, but Skeeter chose a method using pistol/shotgun powder, some tissue to hold the powder in place, Cream of Wheat filled to within an 1/8″ of top of the neck, and a “plug” of tissue paper to hold it all in place. Shown below are cases filled with a pistol/shotgun powder charge topped with Cream of Wheat and then a tissue paper plug.
To ensure the case headspaced firmly in his Dasher chamber, Skeeter created a “false shoulder” where the new neck-shoulder junction would be after fire-forming. After chamfering his case mouths, Skeeter necked up all his cases with a 0.257″ mandrel (one caliber oversized). Then he used a bushing neck-sizing die to bring the top half of the neck back down to 0.267″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. The photo below shows how the false shoulder is created.
After creating the false shoulder, Skeeter chambered the cases in his rifle to ensure he could close the bolt and that he had a good “crush fit” on the false shoulder, ensuring proper headspace. All went well.
The next step was determining the optimal load of pistol powder. Among a variety of powders available, Skeeter chose Hodgdon Titewad as it is relatively inexpensive and burns clean. The goal was to find just the right amount of Titewad that would blow the shoulder forward sufficiently. Skeeter wanted to minimize the amount of powder used and work at a pressure that was safe for his falling block action.
Working incrementally, Skeeter started at 5.0 grains of Titewad, working up in 0.5 grain increments. As you can see, the 5.0 grain charge blew the shoulder forward, but left it a hemispherical shape. At about 7.0 grains of Titewad, the edge of the shoulder and case body was shaping up. Skeeter decided that 8.5 grains of Titewad was the “sweet spot”. He tried higher charges, but the shoulder didn’t really form up any better. It will take another firing or two, with a normal match load of rifle powder and a bullet seated, to really sharpen up the shoulders. Be sure to click on the “View Larger Image” link to get a good view of the cases.
The process proved to be a success. Skeeter now has hundreds of fire-formed Dasher cases and he hasn’t had to put one bullet through his nice, new match-grade barrel. The “bulletless” Cream of Wheat method allowed him to fire-form in a tight-necked barrel without neck-turning the brass first. The only step now remaining is to turn the newly Dasher-length necks down about .0025″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. (To have no-turn necks he would need an 0.271″ or 0.272″ chamber).
Skeeter didn’t lose a single case: “As for the fire-forming loads, I had zero split cases and no signs of pressure in 325 cases fire-formed. Nor did I have any misfires or any that disbursed COW into the action of the firearm. So the COW method really worked out great for me and saved me a lot of money in powder and bullets.” To learn more about the COW fire-forming process, read this Dasher Fire-Forming Forum Thread.
Skeeter did have a fire-forming barrel, but it was reamed with a .269 chamber like his 10-twist Krieger “good” barrel. If he fire-formed with bullets, he would have to turn all 300 necks to .267″ BEFORE fire-forming so that loaded rounds would fit in the chamber. Judging just how far to turn is problematic. There’s no need to turn the lower part of the neck that will eventually become shoulder–but how far down the neck to turn is the issue. By fire-forming without bullets now he only has to turn about half the original neck length, and he knows exactly how far to go.
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February 28th, 2014
Federal Premium has a new online Ballistics Calculator. This free program can determine the trajectory for any rifle or handgun load, and even save your ballistics solutions for future reference. This is handy if you shoot Federal ammunition, because all Federal ammo types are included in the built-in database, with BCs and velocities. That makes it very easy to get a ballistics solution for Federal factory ammo — simply enter the caliber and bullet type/weight and the solver fills in the BC and velocity for you.
Federal’s Ballistics Calculator can also be used for handloaded ammo with non-Federal components. However, you can only use a G1 BC and Federal’s solver is not as sophisticated as some others. We still recommend JBM Ballistics or the new Applied Ballistics Online Solver. These both offer both G1 and G7 and extensive databases of field-derived BCs for hundreds of bullets. The Federal Ballistics Calculator only has BC numbers for factory-made Federal ammunition.
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February 27th, 2014
Looking for authentic U.S. Military Specification Standards (MIL-STD) for gun parts, safety products, or other hardware? Log on to EverySpec.com. This website provides FREE access to the complete archive of U.S. Government spec sheets and technical manuals. You can quickly access and download thousands of public domain U.S. Government documents. For example, we searched for “Picatinny” and came up with MIL-STD-1913 “Dimensioning of Accessory Mounting Rail for Small Arms Weapons”. With one click we downloaded the file as a PDF. Then a search for “M118″ yielded the engineering drawing for 7.62×51 M118 LR Match ammo. Pretty cool.
Using EverySpec.com is fast and easy. And everything you find and save is FREE. Search as often as you like — there are no limits on search requests or downloads. You can either search by keyword, or Federal Supply Class Code (FSC). CLICK HERE for a complete list of FSCs for all products.
Here are FSCs for a few common product types. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of other FSCs — for everything from Office Supplies (FSC 7510) to Nuclear Projectiles (FSC 1110).
1095 — Miscellaneous Weapons (incl. Knives)
1240 — Optical Sighting and Ranging Equipment
1395 — Miscellaneous Ammunition (incl. Small Arms)
3455 — Cutting Tools for Machine Tools
6140 — Batteries, Rechargeable
6230 — Electric Portable Lighting Equipment
7640 — Maps, Atlases, Charts and Globes
8340 — Tents and Tarpaulins
8405 — Outerwear, Mens
Credit Gunsmith Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzales for finding this resource. Thanks Speedy!
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February 26th, 2014
What kind of 200-yard accuracy can you get in an enclosed, underground test range? Would you believe 0.162 MOA at 200 yards with a .338? Have a look at these test targets from Sierra Bullets. Like most bullet manufacturers, Sierra does live-fire bullet testing to ensure that Sierra projectiles perform as promised, with repeatable accuracy. Sierra tests bullets in its own underground test complex. Sierra’s 300-meter test range is the longest, privately-owned underground bullet test facility in the world.
Day in and day out, various bullet types are tested using a big collection of barreled actions. These barreled actions are clamped in stout, return-to-battery test fixtures. These big, heavy test fixtures provide near-perfect repeatability (with no human-induced holding or aiming errors).
Sierra Bullets 10-Shot Groups at 200 yards
Check out these 10-shot test groups shot at the Sierra Test Range at 200 yards. Note that the numbers listed on each sample are actual measurements in inches. To convert to MOA, cut those numbers in half (to be more precise, divide by 2.094, which is 1 MOA at 200 yards). For example, the 0.340″ middle group works out to 0.162 MOA at 200 yards.
Scan-Verified 0.162 MOA Accuracy at 200 Yards
To verify the accuracy of Sierra’s measurements, we measured the middle (.338 caliber) 10-shot group with our On-Target Group Measurement software. We registered a group size reading of 0.339″ — within one-thousandth of the Sierra measurement*. The calculated group size in MOA (Minute of Angle) is 0.162. That’s amazingly good for ten rounds of big .338 caliber bullets. A FIVE-shot 0.162 MOA group at 200 would be considered excellent at any benchrest match. But remember this target has TEN shots. The current, one-target IBS world record for ten shots at 200 yards is 0.245″, set by Ed Watson in 1999.
Bevy of Barreled Actions for Bullet Testing
Sierra Bullets uses dozens of barreled actions for testing bullets in its enclosed, 200-yard test range. Each barrel has its own logbook to track the barrel’s usage.
Click Photo to Zoom
*Note, there were ten (10) shots in the group, but for simplicity we are only displaying five (5) shot circles. Adding more circles won’t change the measurement because the two most distant shots, which determine group size, ARE included.
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February 15th, 2014
Nosler has introduced a new 6.5mm (.264 caliber) hunting cartridge, the 26 Nosler. Nosler will initially offer 26 Nosler cartridge brass, and then, eventually, 26 Nosler loaded ammunition.
This new cartridge is designed to be a speedy, flat-shooting hunting cartridge, with performance exceeding a 6.5-284. This is possible because the 26 Nosler is a big, long cartridge with plenty of “boiler room”. Length from base to neck/shoulder junction is 2.33″ for the 26 Nosler, compared to 1.91″ for the 6.5-284 (and 2.04″ for a 7mm Rem Magnum). The 26 Nosler has a 35° shoulder angle and a magnum-size 0.534″ outside rim diameter.
The 26 Nosler cartridge can drive the Nosler 129 grain, AccuBond® LR bullet at 3400 fps. Zeroed at 350 yards, the 26 Nosler has a Point Blank Range of 0-415 yards. Loaded with the 129gr Accubond, the 26 Nosler retains as much velocity at 400 yards as a .260 Rem produces at the muzzle. This makes the 26 Nosler a “quintessential deer, antelope and long-range” cartridge according to company CEO/President Bob Nosler.
Nosler has just released the SAMMI print for this cartridge. CLICK HERE for SAMMI Print PDF.
Credit Grant G. for story tip. We welcome reader submissions.
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February 15th, 2014
Want to buy a bullet business? Montana Bullet Works (MBW) is now for sale. MBW, run by Dave Jennings, has been a leading “boutique” cast bullet-making shop for years. Dave is widely regarded as one of the best cast-bullet craftsmen in the country. He offered rifle bullets up to .50 caliber, and pistol bullets from .25 to .50 caliber. Forum member Grant G. says: “[Dave] made the very best hard-cast bullets with gas check for hunting. They were very accurate from the rifles I have used them in. My next elk will get thumped with one of his creations.”
Clint Smith, director of Thunder Ranch says: “Montana Bullet Works makes a great product. I was looking for a specific bullet and Dave & Marcie … got the mould and made excellent bullets[.] I highly recommend them.”
MBW Business for Sale
Unfortunately, health concerns now prevent Dave Jennings from continuing his trade: “I am sorry to report that due to a recent spinal fusion surgery and the resultant permanent limitations on lifting and other movements, I can no longer operate MBW. If you are interested in buying MBW … I can provide information on current assests, inventory, etc.”.
Dave Jenning’s Tips for Shooting Cast Bullets
Any gun that you plan to shoot cast bullets from has to be cleaned of all copper jacket fouling first. The copper fouling is much harder than any cast bullet and will act like sandpaper on the bullet as it travels down the barrel. Not only will this lead to poor accuracy but may also give you signs of leading that really isn’t occurring.
While testing cast bullets, it’s also important to keep your barrel free of leading. You may concoct a load that is a little too hot for the bullet/alloy you’re using and have a leading issue with that one load. If that leading isn’t removed before you fire your next test load, you won’t be able to tell which load gave you the problem. Moreover, leading is cumulative and will adversely affect the accuracy of subsequent shots.
But don’t despair. I’ve shot literally hundreds of thousands of cast bullets and have found a quick and inexpensive way to remove leading. I use Bronze Wool, available from Brownells, either in the fine or medium grade. Unlike Steel Wool, Bronze Wool is softer than steel and will not scratch your barrel. Also, Bronze Wool is not oiled, so it leaves your barrel absolutely clean. Simply pull some threads of the Bronze Wool off of the pad and wrap it tightly around a slightly undersized bronze barrel brush. The tighter the fit, the faster it will remove leading. Ten to twelve passes up and down the barrel will remove all but the most severe leading. If you do this regularly, you’ll never have severe leading to contend with. Bronze Wool has become an integral part of my shooting kit for years. I wouldn’t be without it!
~ Dave Jennings – Montana Bullet Works ~
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February 10th, 2014
For top-level competitors, hand-loading is truly the “relentless pursuit of perfection”. To build ammo capable of winning major long-range matches, you’ll need the best tools — and an almost obsessive attention to detail. The bullets must be ultra-consistent, powder charge weights must be “dead on”, seating depths (as measured from base of case to ogive) must be precise, and neck-tension must be the same for every round that goes in the chamber.
When you get it all correct, when every phase of the reloading process has been carried out perfectly, then you have rounds that can set records and win world titles. So what does championship-grade ammo look like? Take a look at the photo below. This is the 7mm RSAUM ammunition used by Kenny Adams at the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). Kenny is the 2013 F-Class World Champion. And he was also a member of Team Grizzly which won the SWN F-Open Team Grand Aggregate, setting a new National record in the process. Does your ammo look this good?
Kenny’s World-Beating 7mm RSAUM Load
For his 7mm RSAUMs Kenny loads Hodgdon H4350 powder and Federal 215m primers into Nosler or Norma RSAUM brass. In the RSAUM he runs Berger 180gr Hybrid bullets seated “just touching” the lands. Kenny is very precise with his charge weights. Using a Sartorius Magnetic Force Restoration scale, Kenny tries to hold his powder charges to within 1-2 kernels charge-weight consistency.
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